Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Bank CEOs Making More Money Despite the Pandemic?


As at 25 March 2021, only five banks in Malaysia have released their FY2020 annual reports. At least three of the CEOs received wage increments of over 10% last year. AmBank’s CEO secured more than 50%, but that is for the period between April 2019 until March 31, 2020 (not the full pandemic year), AmBank Group clarified.


Pre-Tax Profit





AmBank’s AMMB Holdings Bhd

FY2019: RM2,095.4m

FY2020: RM1,782.9m


Datuk Sulaiman Mohd Tahir

FY2019: RM4.2m

FY2020: RM6.64m


Hong Leong Bank Bhd

FY2019: RM3,186m

FY2020: RM2,989m


Domenic Fuda

FY2019: RM15.34m

FY2020: RM17.13m


Malayan Banking Bhd

FY2019: RM11,013.9m

FY2020: RM8,657.0m


Datuk Abdul Farid Alias

FY2019: RM8.43m

FY2020: RM9.4m


CIMB Group Holdings Bhd

FY2019: RM6,618m

FY2020: RM1,530m


Datuk Abdul Rahman Ahmad


(appointed on 10 June 2020)


Alliance Bank Malaysia Bhd


FY2019: RM538m

FY2020: RM424m


Joel Kornreich

FY2019: RM10.6m

FY2020: RM9.5m

- 11.5%


Alliance Bank, same as AmBank, has its financial year end as 31 March 2020. The remuneration of the group’s CEO, Joel Kornreich however, was reduced by 11.5% - from RM10.6 million in FY2019 to RM9.5 million in FY2020. This comprised salary and remuneration of RM6.41 million, bonus of RM1.77 million, EPF contribution of RM1.16 million, and benefits-in-kind of RM150,000.

Despite being the only CEO to have compensation reduction in FY2020, Joel Kornreich received the largest portion over group’s pre-tax profit (remuneration of RM9.5 million over pre-tax profit of RM424 million). An article from Simply Wall St, noted that among companies in the industry with market capitalizations of between RM1.7 billion and RM6.7 billion, Alliance paid a compensation that was higher than the industry median to its CEO. All these show that CEOs’ remunerations don’t always align with company performance or size.

David Bolchover, a management-pay expert says the 2008 global financial crisis was a prime example of how performance and pay don't always align. "The financial sector always defended their high pay on the basis of their rare abilities and their talent," he says. "But a lot of these banks went bust during the crisis, and people started to ask questions – why were they paid so much and why did they continue to be paid so much even after the crisis?" In fact, in many cases they are bailed out using tax-payers money.

With the pandemic, the banks have again experienced a difficult time. But some CEOs are earning more than a 10% pay rise, taking home millions in ringgit. What about their employees? Shouldn’t they be recognised for rewards too? Then again, it is at the expense of savers who receive paltry returns for keeping funds in a bank. Surely, Bank Negara has a say on all this?



1.     Bankers take home more despite pandemic, says report, 23 March 2021, Free Malaysia Today

2.     A Look At Alliance Bank Malaysia Berhad's (KLSE:ABMB) CEO Remuneration, 25 Sep 2020, https://simplywall.st

3.     Peter Yeung, Why CEOs make so much money, 27 Jan 2021, BBC


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